With sword in hand and tongue firmly in cheek, Antonio Banderas and Catherine Zeta-Jones return for some serious swashbuckling in The Legend Of Zorro. Seven years have passed since they first joined forces in The Mask Of Zorro, but director Martin Campbell sticks closely to that formula, blending outrageous stunts with romantic intrigue and wink-wink humour. Although it's utterly unsurprising at every turn, the cocktail of pheromones and adrenaline still makes for an intoxicating adventure.
Relations have soured between Alejandro and Elena, but the chemistry between the leads is still zingy fresh. Adrian Alonso livens the mix as their young son, showing great comic instincts and heightening the tension between them. He idolises local hero Zorro as a prodigious swordsman and berates his pacifist father unaware that they are the same man. Unfortunately Rufus Sewell just looks bored as the archetypal villain and potential step-dad who threatens to blow California off the map following its induction into the USA.
Despite heavy hints at the post-9/11 climate, this is a bloodless, breezy and downright jolly affair. Even little Alonso gets a slice of the swordplay, but there's plenty of action to go around and it's always ostentatious. Zorro indulging in superfluous cartwheels as he battles the baddies is a mark of the film's ironic humour, but instead of being smug there is a charm in its knowing cheesiness. In every other way the script is blandly efficient and the plot twists are as difficult to see coming as backpackers in sombreros. Like a shot of tequila, this is best enjoyed with a pinch of salt.